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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of English and American Studies

Dissertation Project Karolina Golimowska

Reactions to 9/11 in US-American and British City Novels - Transatlantic and Trans-Metropolitan Perspectives 


In the multidimensional and constantly developing field of studying, researching and examining post-9/11 fiction the question and specificity of the urban environment and its importance for the narration, plot and the construction of protagonists in novels has not been thoroughly discussed so far. This study focuses on literary representations of the metropolises New York and London in novels written after 9/11 whose plots allude to the events of that day. The action of all of the chosen texts is set in either New York City or the British capital and in all of them the urban setting and context plays a crucial role. Characters in these novels actively interfere with their given metropolitan environment. They change the city through the way they live, through their movements and actions, just like the city co-shaped by millions of other flâneurs and observers becomes an inseparable part of their lives. It is a very specific relation of reciprocal influence between the city and the individual, their mutual perception and reflection, but also between individuals connected by the fact of living in the same ‘wounded’ urban space. I claim that the given metropolis is the source of literary energy in all of the analyzed novels. As a non-exchangeable social space for the literary setting, it can become universal through its microcosmic character. I am examining the way both the metropolis and its people (individually and as a society) act and react after the events of 9/11 and how they create the new Other in the chosen literary representations. The focus lies on novels written in English and the aim is to establish a multidimensional transatlantic (US versus UK) paradigm. Analyzed novels: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, Amy Waldman’s Submission, Chris Cleave’s Incendiary, H.M.Naqvi Home Boy, Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, Mohsin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist